A historic and picturesque former military defence tower in Guernsey’s beautiful Fermain Bay has been innovatively transformed into a unique, contemporary holiday retreat, whilst sensitively retaining its unique character and charm.
Arranged over three floors, plus a roof terrace, Fermain Tower comprises a series of rooms and spaces connected by ladders and a feature circular staircase. Whatever the season or weather, the view over Fermain Bay is spectacular.
Working within the tiny 3.8m diameter space was a huge challenge. In fact, main contractor R.G. Phillips and their team of committed local craftsmen, had to effectively fit-out an entire home within the floor space of an average bathroom!
Fermain Tower is one of a string of pre-martello loop-hole towers that were hastily constructed around Guernsey in the 1790s, to provide defence against possible attack by the French during the Napoleonic Wars.
Of the island’s remaining 12 towers, Fermain is one of the most beautifully located, overlooking its scenic bay and enjoying views across the Little Russel towards Sark and Herm.
From the 1860s the tower was lived in by the Ferguson family, who ran a ferry service between the bay and St Peter Port after World War Two. Now accessed solely by land or private boat, the bay remains a favourite with locals and visitors alike.
In 2002 Percy Fergurson bequeathed the tower to the National Trust of Guernsey.
Guided by CCD Architects, the Trust conserved and repaired the historic structure over a number of years before embarking on an exciting and innovative project to transform the Tower into one of the Channel Islands’ smallest and cosiest self-catering dwellings, along the lines of historic properties converted by The Landmark Trust, but with a contemporary design angle.
In designing a bespoke fit-out within its four tiny circular floors, CCD Design Director, Oliver Westgarth and team, have carefully retained the essence of the existing tower’s rugged history whilst ensuring modern comfort, contrasting ‘the old and the new’.
Outside, cantilevered sculptural steps – the only new addition – give access through the raised doorway into the main living and kitchen space where a stunning staircase, incorporating clever storage, leads up to a double bedroom.
Beneath a bespoke hatch in the kitchen floor, a ship’s ladder extends below ground to washing facilities located in the former powder store. From the bedroom another ladder leads up to the roof terrace, where a rotating canon once stood.
The terrace offers a private vantage panoramic view point, from which to enjoy wonderful views across the bay towards the islands.
The tower is now a perfect secret hideaway from within which to enjoy glorious sunrises, the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore and an idyllic view of the night sky.
The opening of the Tower realises a long held ambition by the National Trust of Guernsey to breathe new life into a special piece of Guernsey’s heritage, to open a further building to the public and to reach a younger demographic. For anyone with a sense of adventure and an eye on design it’s an experience not to be missed!